The England team that toured North America in 1868-69; standing (from left): Joseph Rowbotham, Alfred Shaw, George Freeman, Edgar Willsher, George Tarrant, Thomas Humphrey, Ted Pooley; sitting (from left): Henry Charlwood, George Griffith, John Smith, James Lillywhite Junior, Harry Jupp    Getty Images
The England team that toured North America in 1868-69; standing (from left): Joseph Rowbotham, Alfred Shaw, George Freeman, Edgar Willsher, George Tarrant, Thomas Humphrey, Ted Pooley; sitting (from left): Henry Charlwood, George Griffith, John Smith, James Lillywhite Junior, Harry Jupp Getty Images

August 23, 1870. A match between the United North of England and the United South of England saw one of the most eventful deliveries of all time. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the event.

On the scoreboard, it is registered as Henry Rupert James Charlwood run out 15.

Charlwood, a teenager when he made his debut for Sussex and still in his teens when he played for the United South of England Eleven for the first time. Later he toured North America as a 22-year-old. Almost a decade later, he played in the first 2 Tests, when he visited Australia with the English team in 1876-77. A hard hitting top order batsman, he batted at No 3 and scored a fighting 36 in his first Test innings.

In 1870 he was just 23 and was playing for the United South of England against the United North at The Oval. The previous day, the high-quality duo of James Southerton and Edgar Willsher had reduced North to 160 for 8, and that morning they had been bowled out for 185. In response, the 22-year-old WG Grace had struck a fine opening partnership with the experienced Surrey batsman Henry Jupp. The duo put on 67 for the first wicket before WG fell to George Wootton.

Charlwood walked in at the fall of the second wicket, Frank Silcock leg-before-wicket to the indefatigable Alfred Shaw. He set about scoring quickly and got all the 15 runs scored while he was at the wicket. And then he faced the famous delivery from Shaw.

Charlwood struck the ball hard and high, but it gathered height rather than distance. As the ball hovered in the air, Joseph Rowbotham running back to get under it, the Jupp and he crossed over for a run.

As the batsmen looked on, Rowbotham positioned himself for the skier, and then let it slip through his fingers. With the ball grassed, and then going through the legs of the fielder, the batsmen turned and ran for the second.

Charlwood, perhaps late in reacting to the drop and eventual possibility of the additional runs, scampered across and did not quite ground his bat before turning for the third. The umpire at square leg called one short. In the meantime, as he sprinted for the next run, Rowbotham had retrieved the ball and sent it screaming to Shaw in a flat, fast throw. And the bowler broke the wicket with Charlwood well short of his ground.

Thus Charlwood left, having been missed, scored a single, called one short and run out all off the same delivery. It was perhaps one of the more eventful balls in the history of the game.

As for the match, it ran out of time on the third day with South on 98 for 2 while chasing 131 for victory.

Brief Scores

United North of England 185 (James Southerton 4 for 117, Edgar Willsher 6 for 63) and 122 (James Southerton 6 for 77, James Lillywhite 4 for 35) drew with United South of England 177 (Henry Jupp 54, WG Grace 42; Alfred Shaw 5 for 55) and 98 for 2 (WG Grace 51*).